Cardboard nation

The group of elderly people picking up cardboards is in the limelight. Funny things is, I’m not sure if they are aware that their plight is a hot potato topic with the upcoming General Election. Because to them, their main concern is getting enough money for food and rent.

There has been claims that there is an increase in this group. Again, I’m not sure about this because the poor has always been among us. Perhaps people have suddenly taken more notice of their existence? But I could be wrong.

Recently, I spent a little time with this group of people.

I must clarify- I am in no position to say I understand them and their problems.

But I did come to some conclusions

Human beings are complex. We listen and wonder why they would refuse to accept a logical solution to their problem. Because we have no vested interest in their situations, no emotions are involved. So it is easy to stay detach and make suggestions. But as someone just commented recently, ‘You are not me. Do not pretend to know you can solve my problems.’

Why would a person in poor health and struggling to get that few pieces of card boxes to make that $2, continue to smoke? Logically, he should stop because smoking makes him ill and it eats into his meager earnings. But when you’re over 70 and probably have been smoking more than half your life, it would be almost impossible to stop.

Why would a person who is staying in a rented flat meant to be shared by 2 persons, refused to do so and would rather bear the full amount? It would make more sense to pay $100 instead of $200 right? Again, this may be due to a human issue. Those who are renting a room or renting out room would understand perhaps. You feel that the place is not yours. So while it doesn’t matter financial sense, it makes emotional sense.

You also wonder why they do not look for other slightly better paid jobs that would give them regular income. For example, a stall assistant? There are certainly plenty of such positions around.

Perhaps they have done this for so long that they much prefer this way of life, even if it is a lot harder.

We all tend to resist and fear change, even more so when you old. Because change is unknown. Change is scary.

In other words, they are all unique cases that probably require different approaches to solve their problems.

But make no mistake, these are a stubborn and resilient bunch. I think the older generation often are. They would prefer to solve the problems themselves than go to the government or social agencies for help. It is embarrassing and a loss of pride for them.

But help they do need- in all the 3 C’s

Cash, care and concern.

Do I think the government should do more to help the poor and the elderly. It’s a resounding YES. If it means having less amenities in my estate so that they can live a little better in my estate, I am perfectly alright.

But policies need time to craft and implement. And even then, some will still fall through the cracks for various reasons.

So perhaps it’s up to us, individuals to chip in.

Sometimes, it makes a world of difference to have someone hold your hand and tell you, ‘It’s ok. You’ve done well. You’re not alone’. And that $50 that you will blow in a single meal would help them in a long way.

I am no angel and I am definitely unable to be there all the time.

But if everyone takes turn and do that little bit. Imagine how much can be done.

In recent months, some people have managed to raise money via crowd funding for all sort of reasons and objectives. Just a dollar, they say.

Well, how about just a dollar for the poor who needs it and maybe an hour of your time once a month?

I think it’s doable right?

If you are interested to pitch in, there are many charity groups that need volunteers. Do check around. But there are 2 informal groups that I follow regularly. A Packet of Rice and Happy People Helping People Foundation.

I live in hope that we will all become a caring nation and not a cardboard nation.

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